Iran urges China, Russia ‘concrete action’ to save nuclear deal

Mohammad Javad Zarif made the statement during his trip to Japan. (File/AFP)
Updated 20 May 2019
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Iran urges China, Russia ‘concrete action’ to save nuclear deal

  • Mohammad Javad Zarif chastised the international community, saying that so far, it has “mainly made statements, instead of saving the deal,”
  • The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year and imposed escalating sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy

BEIJING: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday urged “friends” including China and Russia to take “concrete action” to safeguard the 2015 nuclear deal after the US withdrew from the agreement.

On a visit to Beijing, Zarif said he would also talk with Chinese officials about “bilateral ties and the very dangerous issues that are ongoing in our region today,” according to a video published on the Iranian foreign ministry website.

Amid rising tensions in the Gulf, Iran on Thursday rejected negotiations with the US and said it was showing “maximum restraint” after Washington sent extra military forces to the region against what it claimed was an imminent threat from Tehran.

Zarif called on the international community to save the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The landmark 2015 deal between Iran and world powers including the EU and the United States offered sanctions relief to Iran for scaling back its nuclear program.

In May 2018 President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal and reinstated unilateral economic sanctions.

“If the international community and other JCPOA member countries and our friends in the JCPOA like China and Russia want to keep this achievement, it is required that they make sure the Iranian people enjoy the benefits of the JCPOA with concrete actions,” Zarif said.

Zarif said last week that only Russia and China had supported Iran and helped it keep the nuclear deal going, and accused other parties to the agreement of letting Tehran down.

China was one of the eight global buyers — India, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Italy and Greece — that was allowed to import Iranian crude oil before the US ended waivers in early May.

Zarif’s China trip comes after visits to Turkmenistan, India and Japan in the past week.

Despite Washington’s campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran, the Islamic Republic has vowed to keep selling oil to its main customers, especially China, even if it takes using indirect means.

On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Iran would stop observing restrictions on stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water agreed under the nuclear deal in retaliation for the US withdrawal and the reimposition of sanctions.

In his announcement, Rouhani threatened to go further if the European members of the deal failed to start delivering on their promises to help Iran circumvent US sanctions within 60 days.

China in response called on all parties to uphold the nuclear deal in what it called a “shared responsibility.”


Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

Updated 17 June 2019
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Militant rocket fire kills 12 civilians in Syria: state media

  • Former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham being blamed for the attack

DAMASCUS: Rocket fire has killed 12 civilians in a regime-held village in northwestern Syria, state news agency SANA has said blaming former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham for the attack.

SANA said 15 people were also wounded late Sunday in the attack on Al-Wadihi village south of Aleppo city and said HTS, which controls parts of Aleppo’s countryside as well as most of neighboring Idlib, was responsible.

It published graphic pictures purporting to show some of the victims in a hospital in the aftermath of the attack, including of bandaged men and children lying on stretchers, thick blankets covering their bodies.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the same death toll — saying five children were among those killed — and also blamed militants based in rural Aleppo for the attack.

But the Britain-based monitor did not specify whether HTS or other allied militant groups were responsible.

The attack came as Syrian government forces have been locked in clashes with HTS fighters in nearby Hama province.

More than 35 combatants, mostly regime forces, were killed on Saturday in battles in Hama’s countryside, according to the Observatory.

Parts of Aleppo, Hama and Idlib are supposed to be protected from a massive regime offensive by a buffer zone deal that Russia and Turkey signed in September.

But it was never fully implemented as militants refused to withdraw from a planned demilitarized zone.

In January, HTS extended its administrative control over the region, which includes most of Idlib province as well as adjacent slivers of Latakia, Hama and Aleppo provinces.

The Syrian government and Russia have upped their bombardment of the region since late April, killing nearly 400 civilians, according to the Observatory.

Syria’s war has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since it started in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.